Au revoir Monsieur Jourdan

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The French actor Louis Jourdan died on Saturday at the age of 93, at his home in Beverly Hills. Born in Marseille in 1921 he trained at the École Dramatique, making his professional debut on stage before appearing in his first film, the French production Le Corsaire (The Pirate), in 1939. Following the end of World War II Jourdan was spotted by a scout working for legendary American producer David O. Selznick who gave him his Hollywood break in the film The Paradine Case in 1947, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. In a career spanning over 50 years and more than 80 film and television appearances, Jourdan worked on some classic productions including a Golden Globe nominated appearance in the marvellous 1958 musical Gigi and the villain in the memorable 1983 Bond adventure Octopussy, as well as some forgettable ones like 1982’s Swamp Thing and its follow-up The Return of Swamp Thing in 1989. Jourdan’s personal life also had its fair share of highs and lows, coloured by both happiness in a long marriage to Berthe Frédérique “Quique” Jourdan from 1946 until her death in 2014, and sadness with the tragic drug related death of his only child Louis Henry Jourdan at the age of 29 in 1981. Though he will be fondly remembered by fans of classic Hollywood as a suave sophisticate, he himself claimed to never watch himself on film. ‘I never see my movies’ he once said. ‘When they’re on television I click them away. Hollywood created an image and I long ago reconciled myself with it. I was the French cliché’.

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